Hi! my Name is Kathy and I want to introduce you to the art of intarsia. I have found
that more often than not people that I run into do not know what this ancient art form is.
Here is a brief history along with pictures just to familiarize you with this process. The
ancient art of intarsia- the making of decorative and pictorial mosaics by laying precious
and exotic materials into a ground work of solid wood- inspired both marquetry and inlay.
The word “intarsia” is derived from the Latin word “interserere” which means to insert.
Through the centuries, monarchs and people of wealth employed craftsmen to create
beautiful works of art from wood. Works like this are seen in the histories of ancient
The traditional process, involving many long and demanding steps, was both expensive
countries, Intarsia was originally made by sinking forms into wood following a design,
and the filling in the hollows with pieces of different woods. Initially only a small number
of colors were used. The only tints that were used were black and white. In the early
fifteenth century-at the beginning of the Italian Renaissance- the craftsman produced
graceful works perfectly suited to the raw materials at hand. After the invention of
perspective drawing ambitious intarsia crafters used this representational trend in wood.
Much of their work focused on simple objects like cupboards with their doors partly open
to show items on the shelves. Here are two intarsia panels constructed around 1520 by
Italian artist Fra Giovanni da Verona. The first one is from a monastery near
second one is from a church in
These intarsia panels are perfectly flat panels. The appearance of open cupboard doors is
a trompe I’oeil effect created by a masterful artist. In the hands of these artists beautiful
effects may be obtained by using varying shades of one kind of wood. In the best works
of the period pear, walnut, and maple were the principal woods used, although pine and
cypress can also be found.
The fact that we have any intarsia today is due almost entirely to one person-Judy Gale
Roberts who revived the art in the late 1970’s. She was joined by Jerry Booher in the
eighties and together they created beautiful pieces for sale, and due to Judy’s artistic
talent thankfully began to produce patterns and books which spread the art of intarsia
to craftsmen world wide.
Here is a picture of a tiger that I made from one of her patterns. It is made with all
hardwoods and exotic woods consisting of cocobola, walnut, maple, and spalded fir
was used for the background. You will find other pictures that I have created from
her patterns on the Catalog page.